Ortom's interview: NBC has no power to query Channels TV, says Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka: says Nigeria in a mess and disintegrating e reiterates call for convocation of sovereign national conference to tackle the multiplicity of problems facing the country.

By Nehru Odeh

Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka says the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC, has no power to query Channels Television over an interview with Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom on the TV’s Sunrise Daily programme on Tuesday.

The NBC had branded the interview as “inciting, divisive and unfair comments.”

Soyinka added that what happened to Channels Television could happen to any media organization in the country.

Soyinka said the regulatory body went beyond its constitutional duties and did not have the power to decide what is “professional and sound judgement” as it relates to the media.

He made this disclosure on Friday while briefing the media on the theme ‘Sanctions on the Loose: Chasing the Gnat with a Sledge Hammer.’ The media parley held at Kongi’s Harvest Gallery, Freedom Park in Lagos.

“I think all of you have seen the letter sent by the National Broadcasting Corporation to Channels TV. It is the first time I have actually seen an example of the kind of query that the media is getting,” the literary icon said.

Reading a part of the letter the NBC sent to Channels TV, which says “the broadcaster shall ensure that its presenter shall handle with professionalism and sound judgement,” Soyinka expressed dismay over the over-zealousness of officials of the National Broadcasting Commission. .

“Professionalism and sound judgement? Who decides that? Is the National Broadcasting Commission the mass communication fora? Is it judging people’s papers? Is it setting examinations? Who is the impartial arbiter? Who is the expert who decides things like that? This is one of the most outstanding semi-literate kind of official query,” he lamented.

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The Nobel laureate also decried the genocide that is currently taking place in some parts of the country, especially in Kaduna and Plateau States, and the seeming ineptitude and helplessness of government over what he called the enslavement of young boys and girls and trading them for money in form of ransom which according to him constitute some of the parameters of a failed state.

He wondered why government would fold its hands and do nothing while group of people are being wiped out on daily basis.

“Among the actions that qualify as genocide are: One, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; two, deliberate inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part, and finally forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

“So where are the Chibok girls? Where are the pupils of the Ahmadiyya School? Where are the pupils of the Bethel Baptist School? So what is happening? How do we describe the targeting of children?” Soyinka asked.

While affirming the fact that the United Nations recognised the protection of the rights of children, Soyinka asked: “what do we do when these conditions are violated repeatedly and all we do is celebrate recklessness.”

He then called on the international community to intervene and stop the enslavement of children in form of kidnapping, abduction, the trading of children to the highest bidder that is currently going on with impunity in the country.

He also appealed that the issue of child kidnapping and slavery should be brought to the next General Assembly of the United Nations.

“A brisk and very successful slave trade is going on, with markets springing all over the place,” he lamented.